9 Simple Tax Mistakes To Avoid When Filing Your Return

Tax regulation is sophisticated. There’s little doubt about it. However oddly sufficient, a variety of the tax errors folks make are for shockingly easy issues that might simply be prevented. (Some examples embrace lacking the tax deadline, failing to report all of your earnings, and never taking the fitting tax breaks, simply to call a number of). 

Understanding these errors may also help you keep away from them sooner or later, since none of us actually need to take care of the IRS greater than now we have to. 

1. Not paying required estimated taxes

When you’re a freelancer, small enterprise proprietor, aspect hustler, or anybody else incomes earnings the place taxes aren’t withheld, you’re required to make quarterly estimated tax funds to the Inner Income Service (IRS).

Learn extra: Quarterly Estimated Tax Funds: Who Must Pay Them, When, and Why

Not paying required estimated taxes or paying them late has two main outcomes: 

  • Your tax invoice can be so much bigger than anticipated.
  • You’ll pay penalties and curiosity expenses in your unpaid tax legal responsibility.

Both approach you cube it, it’s not good. Work these quarterly funds into your schedule so you’ll be able to breeze into tax season figuring out you gained’t be in bother with Uncle Sam.

Learn extra: 7 Facet Hustle Accounting Errors To Keep away from

Who has to pay quarterly estimated taxes?

Typically talking, in the event you owe $1,000 or extra in federal taxes for the 12 months, then you definitely’ll have to pay quarterly estimated tax funds. This might embrace any earnings earned by: 

  • Self-employment.
  • Curiosity.
  • Dividends.
  • Alimony.
  • Capital beneficial properties.
  • Prizes and awards.

2. Failing to maintain needed tax information

Irrespective of how easy or advanced your tax scenario is, you’re going to wish to gather receipts, earnings statements, and different issues all year long to be sure you have every thing it’s good to file your return. 

So, what paperwork do tax preparers have to preserve? Typically, you need to cling onto:

  • Revenue statements equivalent to W2s and 1099s.
  • Financial institution statements.
  • Any tax types you obtain electronically or by snail mail.
  • Receipts for purchases and charitable donations you propose on writing off.
  • Copies of your signed return and all supporting paperwork, so you could have proof in the event you’re audited or have to file an amended return.

If this seems like so much, don’t panic. You should utilize our Cash Underneath 30 tax doc guidelines to maintain all of it organized.

3. Failing to report your whole earnings

The IRS is aware of how a lot cash you make annually — and so they additionally know once you fail to report all of it. (They’re sort of like that mum or dad who is aware of their child broke their favourite vase however they ask them about it anyway simply to offer them an opportunity to return clear and inform the reality). 

When you by chance or purposefully depart one thing off your return, the IRS will find out about it, and there can be penalties to pay. It could possibly be so simple as paying a penalty charge or as excessive as being audited or dealing with tax fraud expenses. Both approach, it’s greatest to keep away from all of it collectively. 

The best technique to be sure you’re reporting all of your earnings for the 12 months is to hold onto all of your W2s and 1099s. This can show you how to be certain nothing falls by the cracks once you sit down to arrange your return. 

MU30 Tip: When you file your taxes and later notice you forgot to report one thing, file an amended return as quickly as you’ll be able to to repair it. Find out how in our piece – Tax Return Error? Right here’s How To Amend Your Return.

4. Not utilizing accounts which have tax benefits

One of many best methods to decrease your tax invoice is by maxing out any tax-advantaged accounts you could have at your disposal. This contains:

  • Employer-sponsored retirement accounts, equivalent to a 401(ok), 403(b), 457 plan, or a federal Thrift Financial savings Plan (TSP).
  • Conventional IRAs.
  • Well being financial savings accounts (HSAs), which you qualify for in case you have a excessive deductible healthcare plan (HDHP).

So, why ought to use tax-advantaged accounts to decrease your taxes? Right here’s a state of affairs to indicate you why. (It entails some math, so put your nerdy glasses on with me for a second).

An actual-life instance of why you need to use tax-advantaged accounts

Meet Cleo. She’s a single, 28-year-old monetary analyst who made $80,000 this 12 months. Cleo’s huge into saving, so she maxes out her firm’s 401(ok) ($19,500), her conventional IRA ($6,000), and her HSA ($3,600). This brings her taxable earnings right down to $50,900.

Primarily based on present marginal tax charges (be taught what that fancy phrase means right here), her federal tax legal responsibility comes out to $6,946.50 for the 12 months. With out the tax-advantaged accounts, Cleo would’ve been on the hook for $13,348.50 — A LOT extra money.

Word that it is a simplified state of affairs that doesn’t keep in mind itemized or normal deductions, or different bills. 

5. Submitting with incorrect info

One other frequent tax mistake is submitting a return that’s incomplete or inaccurate. This may end up in delays in getting your refund, in addition to extra penalties and curiosity expenses from the IRS.

To keep away from this, be sure you:

  • Double-check your checking account and routing numbers in the event you’re getting a tax refund by way of direct deposit.
  • Overview your title, Social Safety quantity, deal with, and different private info.
  • Be sure that your submitting standing is appropriate.
  • Affirm that your earnings matches the W2s and different earnings statements you could have available.
  • Overview your deductions and credit to see in the event that they make sense in your scenario.  

6. Submitting beneath the flawed standing

Your submitting standing can have a huge effect on how a lot you owe in taxes for the 12 months. It will possibly additionally decide in the event you even have to file a return within the first place. 

So, what occurs in the event you file beneath the flawed tax standing?

The most typical draw back is that it may end in a bigger tax invoice than needed. And if the IRS suspects you had been deliberately misleading, you could possibly be audited or hit with a tax fraud penalty.

What are your tax standing submitting choices?

Tax filers have 5 submitting statuses to select from:

  1. Single – Applies to anybody who isn’t married, together with those that are divorced or legally separated. 
  2. Married submitting collectively – Applies to anybody who’s married and desires to file taxes collectively.
  3. Married submitting individually – Applies to married {couples} who need to file taxes individually. This could possibly be advantageous in the event you solely need to be liable for your individual taxes. Or, if submitting beneath this standing will prevent extra money. 
  4. Head of family – Principally for individuals who are single, however it will also be used in the event you pay for greater than 50% of the prices for you and a qualifying individual. 
  5. Qualifying widow(er) with dependent little one – For anybody whose partner has just lately died and has at the least one little one dependent. Particular guidelines apply, although.

When you’re caught between two submitting statuses, the IRS recommends getting ready your return each methods to see which saves you probably the most cash. 

Learn extra: How To Know When You Ought to File Your Taxes Collectively or Individually

7. Not taking the fitting tax breaks

There are HUNDREDS of tax deductions and credit on the market. Some are fairly frequent — just like the earned earnings tax credit score, little one tax credit score, and property tax deduction. 

Others are tremendous obscure — like how one can write off scholar mortgage curiosity paid by your dad and mom. Or, how one can write off taxes paid to the Social Safety Administration in the event you’re self-employed.

Learn extra: Tax Advantages For College students: How To Pay Much less And Get Extra Again

Probably the greatest methods to scale back your taxes is to make the most of each tax break you qualify for. The excellent news is, in the event you file your taxes on-line, the tax software program you employ will mechanically maximize these deductions and credit for you. (Try a number of of our really useful tax software program choices right here: Greatest Tax Software program In contrast). 

8. Lacking the tax deadline

The tax submitting deadline is April 15 (nearly) yearly (or October 15 in the event you file an extension). One of the frequent tax errors folks make is lacking this deadline.

So, what occurs in the event you miss a tax deadline? 

  • When you’re set to obtain a refund: the brief reply is nothing. You possibly can file your tax return at any time and get your cash. You gained’t pay any penalties or charges. 
  • When you owe the IRS cash: you’ll pay a penalty for submitting a late return and for not paying your taxes on time. This penalty will get bigger the longer you wait, so file your return ASAP in the event you can.

The IRS’ Failure to File Penalty is 5% every month for any unpaid taxes owed. This charge maxes out after 5 months for a complete of 25%. There’s additionally a Failure to Pay Penalty that retains accruing every month even after the Failure To File Penalty stops. It will possibly all add up in a rush.

MU30 Tip: A tax extension offers you extra time to file your return, however it doesn’t offer you extra time to pay any taxes you owe. So, in case you have a invoice this tax 12 months, arrange a cost plan by April 15 even in the event you haven’t filed a return but.

9. Submitting your tax return too early

When you’re something like me, you might be in a rush to file your taxes as quickly as doable annually. Particularly in the event you’re set to get a refund. 

Facet story: I bear in mind so many occasions in faculty the place I handled the primary day of tax season like my birthday or Christmas. I’d get up and file my return as shortly as I may as a result of I used to be so excited to see what my return can be. Bizarre, I do know.

However right here’s the catch — one other simple tax mistake folks make is submitting their return too quickly. Sounds odd, proper? 

Once you file your return too quickly, you run the danger of not having all the right tax paperwork it’s good to file an entire and correct return. You can additionally miss out on helpful deductions and credit and that might maximize your refund much more.

What you need to do in the event you make a mistake in your tax return

Okay, so what occurs in the event you file your return after which notice, “Crap! I’ve made a mistake!”? Relax, take a deep breath. We’re gonna get by this. 

Normally, all it’s good to do is file Type 1040X, which is an amended tax return, to appropriate any errors you made.

You possibly can sometimes amend your return utilizing the identical tax software program or firm you used to file it the primary time. Or, you’ll be able to obtain this type from the IRS and fill it out by hand (though it is a lot extra tedious).  


These are just some of the most typical tax errors folks make annually. The IRS doesn’t at all times make issues simple for us, so there are some issues which might be simply sincere errors. 

One simple technique to reduce these errors is to file electronically utilizing tax software program or a tax skilled. (My favourite tax preparation software program that I loyally use yearly is TurboTax).

Learn extra:

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